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Ciro in Babilonia

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 27, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

A story of love, marital fidelity, the defeat of a tyrant and the triumph of the good, Rossini's Ciro in Babilonia is a bold fusion of biblical andsecular subjects set to brilliant, thrilling music. Although intended to be staged duringLent, Ciro includes
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Product Details

  • Performer: Riccardo Botta, Anna Rita Gemmabella, Luisa Islam-Ali-Zade, Maria Soulis, Wojtek Gierlach, et al.
  • Composer: Gioachino Rossini
  • Audio CD (February 27, 2007)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Naxos Opera
  • ASIN: B000M2DNP0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #232,976 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By John Cragg on May 6, 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This opera, composed when Rossini was 20 for the somewhat provincial city of Ferrara, is one of the fake oratorios that allowed opera to be performed in Lent. Except for a somewhat -- but not very -- more prominent role for the chorus than one might expect, and a biblical theme, this restriction to being an oratorio does not really limit the work. The theme is only biblical in the sense that Belshazzar does appear in the Bible.

For the opera Rossini, whose invention was still fresh and developing, composed some delightful music, some of indeed also being quite distiniguished. This is what makes the set very well worth having. (Already, however, Rossini is self-borrowing, with the overture the one he used in l'Inganno felce. It is synptomatic of Rossini's peculiar esthetic that the overture of a romantic comedy could serve equally well for a more serious work.) In this production, the singing of the contralto -- yes contralto not mezzo-soprano -- Anna Rita Gemmabella, in the title role and of tenor Riccardo Botta as Belshazzar is highly satisfying, the former especially handling the bel canto demands of her role in marvellous fashion. The rest of the cast is also well up to the requirements of their roles, though rather meanly Maria Soulis is reduced to a one-note aria -- the original singer allegedly having a horrible voice with that one note being her least offensive, so Rossini wrote an "aria" where the orchestra caries all melodic content.

The weaknesses of the set come from the orchestra, and the conducting, though some of this may be problems produced by the recording engineers. While by and large the conductor, Antonio Fogliani, picks satisfying tempos, his dynamics leave much to be desired.
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I'm a Rossini nut. 'nuff said?
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